Is there meaning in tragedy?

By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries

The horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut have many people wondering about how to find meaning in tragedy. I am not even going to bother attempting to answer the "why does God allow evil?" question. People have been asking, and theologians have been failing at answering that question for thousands of years. For some attempts, please read the following articles: C.S. Lewis said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." With that in mind, what I will explain here is what I think God wants us to learn as a result of this tragedy. What do I think God is shouting to us?


(1) "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, NKJV). We forget how evil humanity can be. We forget the levels of depravity human beings are capable of. A gunman murdering 20 children and 6 adults in an elementary school is about as depraved as it gets.

(2) Demon possession is real. Satan truly is roaming like a lion looking for people to devour (1 Peter 5:8). I cannot imagine anyone being capable of mass murdering children without demonic influence. In addition to being desperately wicked on our own, there are even more depraved spiritual forces behind the scenes seeking to push us over the edge.

(3) Christians need to knock it off with the "the schools kicked God out therefore He is allowing evil in" comments. No one can kick God out of anything. Last time I checked, God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12). To claim that God allowed 26 people to be murdered in an elementary school because our government requires the teaching of evolution and does not allow public prayer is presumptuous and ludicrous. It is no better than a hate-filled church claiming God is allowing our soldiers to be killed because our country tolerates homosexuality.


I entirely understand that the vast majority of people who own guns would never use them for mass murder or any other crime. But the problem is, as Columbine, Aurora, Newtown, etc., demonstrate, guns keep falling into the wrong hands. Granted, even if all guns were taken away from citizens (which I would strongly oppose), psychopaths would still find ways to murder people. Take the guns away, the murderers would use knives; take the knives away, they would use sticks or rocks. Cain didn't have a rifle, yet he found a way to kill Abel.

America's founding fathers wanted an armed citizenry to provide a defense against oppressive government. But should we engage in an arms race with the government? From what I hear, the government has tanks, cruise missiles, and nuclear weapons. A citizenry equipped to defend itself against such a government is both extremely implausible and terrifying.

I do not claim to know the solution, but something has to be done to keep guns (and any other weapon) out of the hands of psychopaths. I would do anything to save children from being killed, even sacrificing my right to own a gun. The problem is, giving up my gun won't make the psychopath give up his. And ultimately guns are not the problem. Evil and/or mentally deranged people are the problem. A gun in the hand of an evil person can be used to inflict great harm; by the same token, a gun in the hand of a good person can prevent great evil.


I do not know why God allowed the Sandy Hook tragedy. I do not claim that the above ideas are the actual lessons God wants all of us to learn. These are simply my thoughts about what God is teaching me as I attempt to make sense of a terrible evil—same as you.

Image Source: Dave Barger; Sandy Hook Memorial; Creative Commons

TagsCurrent-Issues  | Hardships

comments powered by Disqus
Published 12-20-12